Lionel Messi scored scored a hat trick as the Catalan giants, Barcelona romped to victory against hosts Rayo Vallecano, who finished the game with nine men after red cards for Diego Llorente and Manuel Iturra.

Luis Enrique’s side secured an emphatic 5-1 win as well as go eight points clear and further make history by going 35 games unbeaten.

Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring midway on 22 minutes, the Croatia international taking advantage of a goalkeeping error from Juan Carlos who fumbled a cross allowing the midfielder to take a touch before firing into an empty net.

Just over a minute later and Barcelona had doubled their lead, Lionel Messi driving forwards and swapping passes with Neymar before tucking it past Carlos at his near post.

Rayo’s task was made ever harder when Diego Llorente was sent off for a high challenge on Rakitic shortly before the break and Messi made the extra man count 10 minutes in the second half, grabbing his second of the evening after Luis Suarez’s shot had hit the post.

Although Manucho grabbed one back for the hosts, they were dealt another blow when Manuel Iturra saw red for a foul on Sergio Busquets and although Luis Suarez missed the subsequent penalty, Messi scored his third of the evening just minutes after.

Arda Turan then completed the scoring in the 85th minute, heading home Jeremy Mathieu’s cross at the far post for his first Barcelona goal.